Bill Daley for Governor of Illinois? Some Republicans Hope So.
July 7, 2008 - 8:28 PM
Chicago (CNSNews.com) - The local media here have been feverishly speculating for the last week about whether Bill Daley -- campaign manager for Al Gore's failed presidential bid last year -- is gearing up to run for governor of Illinois.
Some top Democrats in the state have already lent their blessing.
"I told Mr. Daley when he talked to me that he would make a very good candidate," said Michael J. Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.
But many Republicans aren't worried. In fact, some are welcoming a Daley for Governor candidacy, figuring that the reputation Daley developed as Gore's point man in last year's presidential recount in Florida will come back to haunt him and turn off many voters in largely Republican downstate Illinois and in the Republican suburbs of Chicago.
"In a way, I would kind of welcome it," said Doug Ibendahl, a GOP activist and founder, last year of the Chicago group, "Young Republicans for Bush." "It would make for a very interesting race," he added.
Although Daley has name recognition, it may not necessarily be the kind of name recognition that would win him the election. "I'm sure he would get 120 percent of the vote in Cook County," said Ibendahl. "But he would probably get less than 5 percent elsewhere around the state."
Thus far, only the media and "big-government Democrats are elated by the prospect of a Daley race," says Joe Wiegand, executive director of the Family Taxpayers Network, and a leading force in the GOP in Illinois. "If their scheming is successful, Daley brothers will simultaneously run the State of Illinois, the County of Cook and the City of Chicago. But that concern over the power of the Daleys will likely backfire on them and cause a big GOP turnout downstate." Bill Daley's brother, Richard, is mayor of Chicago.
Bill Daley is now chairman of Evercore Partners, an investment banking firm in New York City. Prior to running Gore's presidential campaign and serving as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration, Daley was a former law partner at Mayer, Brown and Platt, a powerhouse law firm in Chicago and Washington D.C.
"He worked down the hall from me," said Ibendahl, who is still a lawyer at Mayer, Brown in Chicago. "He was quiet and very serious most of the time and was gone a lot, spending a lot of time in D.C. I saw him after the Florida recount. I thanked him for giving me a free trip to Florida [to work on the Bush effort]."
Kathy Posner, president of the political consulting firm, Comm2, has worked on major races in Chicago and around the state, and believes Daley is merely sending up a trial balloon before he focuses on the job he really wants.
"The reason for this trial balloon on Daley is so when he runs for U.S. senator against Peter Fitzgerald, it will be an old story, this idea that the Daleys have too much power,"
There are other hints that Daley will pass on a gubernatorial candidacy. Another candidate for governor, Paul Vallas, the former chairman of Chicago Public Schools, has hired a well-connected Democratic firm to run his campaign fund raising. The firm is called Haymarket Consulting.
"If Bill Daley were really running, Haymarket would not have contracted with Vallas," said Posner. "They have to clear everything through the Fifth Floor [of City Hall, a local version of the West Wing of the White House]."
Calls to Daley's office in New York City were not returned.